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Title: Vulnerability of water supply from the Oregon Cascades to changing climate: linking science to users and policy

Author: Farley, Kathleen A.; Tague, Christina; Grant, Gordon E.

Date: 2011

Source: Global Environmental Change. 21: 110-122

Publication Series: Scientific Journal (JRNL)

Description: Despite improvements in understanding biophysical response to climate change, a better understanding of how such changes will affect societies is still needed. We evaluated effects of climate change on the coupled human-environmental system of the McKenzie River watershed in the Oregon Cascades in order to assess its vulnerability. Published empirical and modeling results indicate that climate change will alter both the timing and quantity of streamflow, but understanding how these changes will impact different water users is essential to facilitate adaptation to changing conditions. To better understand the vulnerability of four water use sectors to changing streamflow, we conducted a series of semi-structured interviews with representatives of each sector, in which we presented projected changes in streamflow and asked respondents to assess how changing water availability would impact their activities. In the McKenzie River watershed, there are distinct spatial and temporal patterns associated with sensitivity of water resources to climate change. This research illustrates that the implications of changing streamflow vary substantially among different water users, with vulnerabilities being determined in part by the spatial scale and timing of water use and the flexibility of those uses in time and space, Furthermore, institutions within some sectors were found to be better positioned to effectively respond to changes in water resources associated with climate change, while others have substantial barriers to the flexibility needed to manage for new conditions. A clearer understanding of these opportunities and constraints across water use sectors can provide a basis for improving response capacity and potentially reducing vulnerability to changing water resources in the region.

Keywords: vulnerability, water, streamflow, climate change, adaptation, McKenzie River

Publication Notes:

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  • This article was written and prepared by U.S. Government employees on official time, and is therefore in the public domain.

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Farley, Kathleen A.; Tague, Christina; Grant, Gordon E. 2011. Vulnerability of water supply from the Oregon Cascades to changing climate: linking science to users and policy. Global Environmental Change. 21: 110-122.

 


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